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Aftershocks on Bali NUSA DUA - At 11pm last Saturday a powerful explosion in the entertainment district of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali razed a number of buildings to the ground. At least 200 people died. Hundreds more are lying injured in hospitals in Indonesia and Australia. The hunt for the perpetrators has begun, and the consequences can be felt all over Bali.
The waiter at the Palace Club is angry. He clears his throat and apologises: "What happened is so terrible, I can hardly speak." His smile has disappeared, and you can see the despair and grief on his face. "It's also terrible for Bali. We've spent 15 years building all this up. At a stroke everything has gone. Now the tourists are staying away. It's even worse than 11th September."
A few days after the attack, the immediate consequences can be seen in the hotels. People are checking out, but nobody is arriving to take their place. In one of the main hotels in Nusa Dua, all the Australians have left. You no longer need to make a reservation for the hotel's plush restaurant, and the following day there's no rush for deckchairs. You can sit where you want.
In the afternoon, the normally cheerful chambermaid greets us with a melancholy expression. "Bad news," she says, "in the kitchen there's a notice from the General Manager that that this will be the last week for the four students and myself." She looks at us, as if hoping that we can turn back the tide. "Now I must let my father know I'm out of work again. Last year in September, now in October. How can that happen?"
A Dutch couple due to spend another week here have decided to take the first available flight home. It was the couple's fourth visit. The woman, who was planning to come back in two years' time with her children to celebrate her 30th wedding anniversary, now says she never wants to return. "I don't feel safe here any more," she says.
The Balinese are concerned that the effects of the explosion will continue to reverberate for a long time. Many people directly employed in the tourist industry will lose their jobs. Souvenir shops will have to close, and for taxi drivers there won't be so many tips to earn.
The attack is damaging for the Indonesian economy, but for Bali it's disastrous. The island's economy has developed in an unusually limited way, and is therefore especially vulnerable. Almost everyone earns money from tourism in one way or another. There's no industry to speak of, and the agricultural sector provides very little employment these days.
The day after the attack, sitting in a small café with a number of Balinese, we watched the pictures on the local TV station. Everyone present was shaken, shocked. Nobody could believe that such a thing could happen on their island. One of the waiters came up to us and offered his apologies. He asked whether we would ever come back, because he could already sense the storm coming. In due course he'll experience the economic consequences of a terrorist attack: "no tourists, no money, no food."


Link to related event Related event:
Bali terrorist attack


Posted in Terrorism @ 18 October 2002 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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